Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some New Stuff I've Been Listening To: Avetts, Hawthorne, Perkins, Cash

The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You
This LP, the 5th one from the Avetts, is their major label debut, produced by Rick Mothafuckin Rubin. It is the band's most concise album; it doesn't have the sometime meandering quality of the others. Unfortunately, it is also the most boring of their albums. There are a few winners on here, but nothing comes close to the high points of Emotionalism or Mignonette. Good thing that these guys easily get the three album rule seal of approval, so they could decide that they were a Taylor Swift cover band and I'd give them a pass.* Key tracks: "Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise," "Kick Drum Heart," "Slight Figure of Speech"

Mayer Hawthorne - A Strange Arrangement
This debut release on Stones Throw from Ann Arbor's Mayer Hawthorne is a short, smart, and masterfully crafted tribute to the Motown sound. Like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Hawthorne specializes in what I'd call period soul, but instead of the James Brown/Aretha Franklin vibe that the Dap Kings put forward, Hawthorne is a pitch-perfect Motown replica. Vocal cues come from Smokey Robinson's falsetto, while the songwriting takes a page from the Holland-Dozier-Holland songbook. Key tracks: "Your Easy Lovin Ain't Pleasin Nothin," "The Ills," "Maybe So, Maybe No," "One Track Mind"

Dudley Perkins - Holy Smokes
This is one of the craziest things I've ever listened to, in any genre. Perkins is an emcee who takes his cues (and samples) from psychedelic soul. Could've swore on listening to this that it's a Madlib production from Stones Throw, but the whole thing was produced by Georgia Anne Muldrow (who has a new album out as well) and is released by Koch. But regardless, if you're into Madlib's brand of trippy hip hop, this is something you should cop (and for what it's worth, Perkins and the Stones Throw label have worked together in the past). Key tracks: "Uncle Ruckus," "Funky Soul," "E&R"

Roseanne Cash - The List
I'm an unabashed fan of the genre I like to call Father's Day music. These are albums that your dad will probably love, and they top the charts around Father's Day. Note that they don't need to be released around Father's Day for the phenomenon to occur; usually these are slow growers in terms of sales, so they need a good six months lead off. They always win Grammys. O Brother Where Art Though, Steely Dan, the Alison Krauss/Jimmy Page record Raising Sand, these are all classic Father's Day albums and artists. T-Bone Burnett is the unchallenged king of the genre, though he's usually behind the scenes. Well, this year my dad is getting a copy of The List for Father's Day. The story goes that Johnny Cash gave his daughter Roseanne Cash a list of the 100 essential songs that she had to know when she was in her early twenties (apparently, girl didn't know jack about country and blues). This album consists of covers of a dozen songs from the list, from traditionals to Merle Haggard, Hank Snow, Bob Dylan and others. A solid album of covers with guest appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Rufus Wainwright, Elvis Costello and Jeff Tweedy. Key tracks: "Miss the Mississippi and You," "Girl From the North Country" (I love that Johnny Cash included the one Dylan song that he duetted on in his list), "She's Got You"

*Not gonna lie, I'd actually be all about this.

The Avett Brothers' I and Love and You [amazon mp3]
The Avett Brothers' back catalog [emusic]
Mayer Hawthorne's A Strange Arrangement [emusic]
Dudley Perkins' Holy Smokes [emusic]
Roseanne Cash's The List [amazon mp3]

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